A private school in Vermont for gifted kids + a decades old murder that's unsolved + a delightfully diverse gang of teens = a delightfully engaging mystery novel.
Truly Devious, the first in a planned trilogy from Maureen Johnson, is just a good murder mystery. Plain and simple. It's technically a young adult novel (but who cares); the protagonist is a 16-year-old Stevie Bell, who has recently started as a student at Ellingham Academy in Vermont. Stevie's peers are, as EW puts it, "the kind of diverse representation that YA readers crave." And it never felt like Johnson was trying to shoehorn in diverse characters for the sake of diversity; it felt natural. Stevie suffers from anxiety, and her panic attacks and anti-anxiety medications are part of the plot. Her best friend Janella, was a queer black girl who was interested in engineering.
But the plot also goes back in time to the 1930s, when Ellingham Academy was founded, and the founder's wife and daughter were mysteriously abducted and (probably) murdered. My biggest issue was surprisingly not about these dual timelines (usually, I am not a fan), but revolved around the end: I really don't like when books end on cliffhangers. WHY! I was loving the book until that... and it just felt unnecessary. Everything was speeding ahead to be wrapped up. There's no closure on anything. When you do a cliffhanger, at least give your readers something. Anyway, now I am patiently waiting for book #2... Rating: ★★★★